After a huge season on the Auckland club scene, which saw him win an U18 title with Richmond and take Mt Albert Grammar School through to the secondary school final, Charlie Leota is set to head across to the other side of the world for his next sporting opportunity.
Tell us about your history in sport, have you always been a league guy or a bit of everything?
I started playing rugby in year 9 and 10 for school and then lost interest in it and found league in year 11. Since then I have played both club and school league and loved it.
This year you won the U18 Auckland Grand Final with Richmond and made it to the Auckland final with Mt Albert Grammar School. How have you enjoyed your season?
I was happy we made it so far with Mt Albert Grammar. I know we made our family proud. The club season was really good too.
A change of code is on the cards for 2019 or 2020 though? How did that come up?
Yes, I have got an American football scholarship opportunity in Utah at a junior college called Snow College. I will be playing defensive line there. We had a competition on the Gold Coast where we could show off our skills in front of scouts. I was happy with how it went and off the back of it this came up.
How long have you been playing American football for, and are how do the two skillsets relate?
I have been playing for the Metro Lions here in Auckland since last year. The two skillsets go hand in hand. It’s a lot of speed and strength work. I play very technical positions, but I have picked up what I can from playing video games and tried to replicate that.
It’s a pretty big opportunity, how are you feeling about it?
I am proud of myself. I have been dreaming of playing football since I was young. I started with playing the Madden 11 video game. But I didn’t think it would happen with being from New Zealand, I thought it was just an American sport.
Former South Sydney Rabbitohs junior Jordan Mailata has just inked a deal with the Super Bowl champions, the Philadelphia Eagles, have you seen much of him?
I’ve seen his trainings that he did before he got picked up in the draft. They are pretty impressed with how he can move, so I wonder how they would look at us league boys if we had more players from here going over.
Do you see similarities between your style and his style in either game?
In American football he plays on the offensive side of the ball, and I play on both sides right now. He is a lot bigger than me! He plays direct and I like to be direct too, his footwork is pretty good.